New firm will be headquartered in Silicon valley and aims to create safer cars, improve efficiency
TOKYO—Toyota Motor Corp. has announced plans to establish a new American research and development company with facilities adjacent to Standford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Palo Atlo, Calif. and Cambridge, Mass. The automaker said it will invest US$1 billion in the venture over the next five years.
“As technology continues to progress, so does our ability to improve products,” Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota, said. “At Toyota, we do not pursue innovation simply because we can; we pursue it because we should. It is our responsibility to make life better for our customers, and society as a whole.”
Toyota Research Institute Inc. will focus on artificial intelligence and aim to “bridge the gap” between research and product development.
“Its primary mission is to accelerate R&D in a range of fields to help resolve society’s future challenges by using artificial intelligence and big data. Thereby, contributing to a sustainable future where everyone can experience a safer, freer, and unconstrained life,” Toyota said.
The new firm will be headed by Gill Pratt, Toyota’s executive technical officer and now CEO of TRI. Pratt, who has a background in electrical and computer engineering as well as robotics, said the company’s initial goals are to improve automobile safety, make driving accessible to everyone and deploy Toyota’s technology indoors, particularly in support of seniors.
The institute also plans to apply its research more broadly, and will look to improve production efficiency as well as accelerate the discovery of new materials.
Toyota said the new company is expected to employ approximately 200 people and will begin operations in January.